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Lopez Wins in Her First Appearance of Year

February 08, 1988| Associated Press

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Nancy Lopez has won 37 LPGA tournaments, but Sunday's victory in the $200,000 Mazda tournament was her first in a season-opener.

Lopez overcame a 25 m.p.h. wind and three bogeys in the first seven holes of the final round for a two-stroke victory and the $30,000 first prize.

"It's fun to be able to win the first tournament," Lopez said. "Everybody's rusty when you get here and a little jittery about how they're going to play, and if you play well, a lot of positive feelings come out of that."

Lopez, who finished with a 3-over-par 75, lost half of a four-shot lead on the front nine but outlasted her closest pursuers.

"I only felt threatened by myself," she said. "I knew if I could not make mistakes, I could win. I didn't want to get mad, either."

Lopez's four-round score was 283, 5-under par at the 6,368-yard Stonebridge Golf and Country Club course.

Marta Figueras-Dotti of Spain made birdie putts of 70 and 12 feet on the last two holes to finish second at 73-285.

"I started making putts, but it was too late," Figueras-Dotti said. "Second is best, after first."

Jan Stephenson, Lopez's major threat most of the day, found a bunker on No. 18 and took a double bogey to finish tied for third at 74-288. Also at 288 were Heather Farr, Amy Benz, Patty Sheehan, Juli Inkster and Martha Foyer, whose previous best finish was a tie for 24th.

Inkster bounced back from a 75 Saturday to shoot a 68, Sunday's best round. Fourteen golfers shot 80 or above.

Lopez, who was 7-under after two rounds, said strong winds made play difficult for the second straight day.

"I had to use, on some holes, three clubs more when the wind was in my face," she said. "There was a consistent gust all day long."

Lopez took the lead for good in the second round, and began the final day four shots up on Figueras-Dotti. Shots into bunkers led to bogeys for Lopez on the first, fourth and seventh holes, and she fell to 5-under.

Stephenson, Foyer and Sheehan all went to 3-under, but they could get no closer to Lopez. She rolled in a 25-foot downhill birdie putt on No. 9, while Foyer bogeyed the hole, and Sheehan bogeyed No. 10.

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